“This will help the United States counter Russia’s destabilizing activities in the Balkans”

ENGEL STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement following the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R.2810) on the House floor:

“Today, the House voted to give our servicemembers the tools they need to protect America’s security and advance our interests around the world.

“I’m pleased that four of my amendments were included in the final passage of this legislation.  These amendments will provide reporting on Serbia’s defense relationship with Russia, stronger congressional oversight of changes the Administration makes to policies and legal interpretations that govern security operations, a strategy to improve Nigeria’s defense sector transparency and civilian protection measures during its military operations, and will also require a Department of Defense designee to protect cultural heritage.  This will help the United States counter Russia’s destabilizing activities in the Balkans, guide our use of armed force, ensure accountability for allegations of human rights violations during Nigeria’s operations against armed groups, and protect the world’s treasures from destruction by groups like ISIS.

“The legislation also included funds supporting Israel’s missile defense funding, which is essential to Israel’s security, considering the threats that Israel faces from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.  Though the Trump Administration had opposed Overseas Contingency Operations funding for this, it’s been proven time and again that these systems safeguard Israel and its people, and I am pleased to see this funding pass today.

“Congress has the power of the purse, and that’s why we were able to come together to pass this legislation to fund our military and national security priorities abroad despite the Administration’s word.  We must continue working through the appropriations process to ensure that defense spending continues to reflect America’s best interests abroad and does not overshadow other important domestic and diplomatic priorities.”

 

Background:

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R.2810) passed the House today 344-81. Rep. Engel had four amendments that were successfully included in the bill. The amendments include:

  • An amendment requiring a report to Congress on the defense and security relationship between Serbia and Russia;
  • An amendment requiring reporting on changes to previously reported legal and policy frameworks that guide America’s national security operations, which is vital to giving Congress the information needed to conduct oversight over rules and policies that govern United States’ use of military force abroad;
  • An amendment requiring the Secretary of Defense to designate a point person for coordinating the Department’s obligations to protect cultural heritage, building on Rep. Engel’s bill that was signed into law, the Preserve and Protect International Cultural Property Act (H.R.1493); and
  • An amendment requiring a strategy to support improvements by the Nigerian Government in defense sector transparency and civilian protection during Nigeria’s military operations against various armed groups.

 

Engel’s Amendament

 

SEC. 12_. REPORT ON DEFENSE COOPERATION BETWEEN SERBIA AND THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION.

 

 (a) In General.

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the congressional defense committees and the Committees on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the defense and security relationship between Serbia and the Russian Federation.

 

 (b) Matters to Be Included.—

The report required under subsection (a) shall include the following:

(1) A list of Russian weapons systems and other military hardware and technology valued at $1,000,000 or more that have been provided to Serbia since 2012.

(2) A description of the participation by Serbian armed forces in Russian military training or exercises since 2012.

(3) A list of any defense and security cooperation agreements between Serbia and Russia entered into since 2012.

(4) An assessment of how the countries bordering Serbia assess the risk the Serbian armed forces pose to their national security.

(5) An assessment of intelligence cooperation between Serbia and Russia.

(6) An assessment of defense and security cooperation between Serbia and the United States.

(7) An assessment of how military relations between Serbia and Russia affect United States defense and security cooperation with Serbia and cooperation between Serbia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

 

       (c) Form.—

The report required under subsection (a) shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.

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